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Automating rice variety release process in Bangladesh helps to reduce rice seed cost

To help reduce the cost of seeds, researchers suggested automating the rice variety release process in the workshop conducted by the  International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Bangladesh and the Seed Certification Agency (SCA) under the USAID Funded FtF Bangladesh IRRI Rice Breeding Public Private Partnership Platform Activity on 30 March 2022 in Gazipur, Bangladesh. 

While Bangladesh has systems in place for rice seed variety release, quality seeds are still expensive. Farmers stand in the last kilometer of quality rice seed system and mostly depend on the sources of rice seeds from public and private sectors. At the same time, the private sector faces challenges on registering rice seed varieties such as the lengthy process, complexities of the system, and the uncompetitive cost of doing business. From 2014 to  2019, the contribution of the private sector in rice seed release is 10.81% to 10.84%, the growth is almost stagnant due to these limitations.

To address these challenges, Chief of Party of IRRI Bangladesh Dr. Sirajul Islam talked about the initiatives they were taking to facilitate the efficient delivery of services of the rice seed system.

Krishibid Amina Begum of the Seed Certification Agency discussed how SCA facilitates public and private sectors’ timely access to quality seeds.

“Bangladesh is the third highest paddy (non-milled rice) producing country in the world, next only to China and India. Over the years, Bangladesh has developed modern and high-yielding rice varieties, fast-tracked the adoption of high-yielding rice varieties by farmers, and the rapid expansion of irrigation infrastructure,” Dr. Sirajul Islam said.

“Automating the seed certification system will build upon these successes. The automation seeks to consider the best practices that reduce time, cost, and complexities of rice variety registration,” he added.

Dr. Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, Project Lead of IRRI said, “Automation process for variety registration and seed release process is a dire need now. It will reduce the time required, reduce the complex registration process and enhance efficiency. Dr. Rafiq also provided an example of automated seed import permission (IP) of Department of Agriculture Extension and how it is reducing the complexity of the process. 

During the workshop the speakers recommended building a digital platform that will ease the registration process. They also emphasized the importance of establishing the information technology (IT) department at SCA and the provision of stable job placement of SCA officials.

Dr. Md. Sahjahan Kabir, the Director General of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, 
Dr. Mohammad Khalequzzaman, Director Research of BRRI and Dr. Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, Project Lead of IRRI joined the event as special guests. The workshop was Chaired by Dr. Muhammad Emdadul Haque, Director in Charge of SCA.

Seventy participants from the Ministry of Agriculture, Aftab Bahumukhi Farms Limited, Ispahani Agro Limited, Lal Teer Seed Limited, Metal Agro Limited, Supreme Seed Company Limited, Members from the Bangladesh Seed Association, SCA, IRRI and representatives from the print media attended the said workshop. It was featured in Agrilife, Barta24 and The Business Standards